BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — If you’re planning on dipping wings and celery in blue cheese this weekend during the big game–you are keeping a decades long Buffalo tradition alive.
“Food is such a big part of our culture here. From wings, to beef on weck, to pizza–we punch over our weight in terms of food history here,” said Cynthia Van Ness, Library Director of the Buffalo History Museum.
When Van Ness started working at the Buffalo History Museum, she noticed they have a collection of old menus from restaurants throughout Buffalo. Many of those restaurants have come and gone, but the menus continue to paint a picture of the past.
“You get a sense of what was important to people, what they liked, what their entertainment was, what was a special occasion place, and what was an ordinary day for them,” said Van Ness.
Over the years, the Buffalo History Museum has collected thousands of menus, new and old, that helps tell the stories of the past. One menu they collected recently is helping open the door of finding out more information about a staple pairing loved by many Western New Yorkers.
“I looked a the graphic design thinking, ‘Hmm that looks like the early 1960s, maybe this is the first Anchor Bar menu that shows Buffalo style chicken wings’ it was not, but instead it showed us something really interesting about celery and blue cheese,” said Van Ness.
In the vintage Anchor Bar menu bought from eBay, it could be the first sign of seeing their homemade blue cheese dressing and blue cheese stuffed celery served as an appetizer. Van Ness speculates there could be different reasons the duo was eventually paired with their chicken wings.
“Maybe it was a way to pair something new something familiar to sort of increase the appeal, or maybe they knew food really well and understood the hot thing next the to cooler thing as a contrast,” said Van Ness.
Now it’s still unknown when exactly the two dishes were first paired up, but they continue to look for more clues in old menus to help piece the duo’s history together.
If you have any menus, new or old, you would like to donate to the Buffalo History Museum, you can donate to them by dropping them off at the front desk.
The Museum is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., Thursdays through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. For more information on the museum, visit their website here.
Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.